House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured the public that Congress’ debates on the franchise renewal of television giant ABS-CBN Corp. will be “fair.”
“Ina-assure ko ang lahat ng ating kababayan, ang mga kapamilya, mga newscaster, artista and all concerned na magiging fair ang hearing sa Kongreso,” the Taguig-Pateros first district congressman said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda on Monday, October 28.
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However, Cayetano did not provide details on when they would finally begin discussions on the measure renewing ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise.
He also did not divulged if the franchise, which expires on March 30, 2020, would be approved or not.
The former senator only said they need to ratify first the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 before focusing on other measures.
“Hindi ako makasagot sa inyo ng definite ngayon na definitely hindi o definitely maibibigay,” Cayetano noted.
“Pero naniniwala ako na ‘yung management n’yo ay determinado na harapin ‘tong mga issues na ito at makahanap ng resolution,” he added.
The former Foreign Affairs head also stressed that members of Congress value free press and fair media across the country.
The House legislative franchise panel took no action on any of the six bills that may save the TV giant from closing shop next year since November 2016.
In the previous 17th Congress, no ABS-CBN franchise bill was sidelined in Congress as President Duterte launched repeated verbal attacks against the media network due to perceived slights and its allegedly slanted reporting.
Aside from deputy speaker Vilma Santos-Recto, a movie actress known as “Ate Vi,” who has worked with the network, five other lawmakers also filed their version of the bill.
They were lawmakers, Pangasinan Rep. Rose Marie Arenas, Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago, Parañaque Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting, and PBA Rep. Jericho Nograles.
In the Senate, it was Senator Ralph Recto, who filed a bill renewing the franchise granted to ABS-CBN.
Congress would resume sessions on November 4. Lawmakers went on a break last October 3.